The first league meeting between Blues and Villa in five years ended honours-even at St. Andrew’s on Sunday afternoon.
Gary Gardner gave the visitors’ a first-half lead with a neat header, but David Davis made sure Blues picked up a point with a finely taken 71st minute goal.
It was no less than Blues deserved as they certainly created many more chances than the side from Aston.
Gary Rowett made four changes to his starting line-up. Experienced stopper Tomasz Kuszczak was back in goal for Adam Legzdins, with Rhoys Wiggins given his first Blues start at left-back in place of the suspended Jonathan Grounds. Clayton Donaldson was named in the starting XI in place of Lukas Jutkiewicz and Che Adams replaced David Cotterill.
In what was a red-hot atmosphere Blues began the game kicking towards the Gil Merrick stand, where the away contingent of Villa supporters were sat.
Blues were largely on the front foot in the early stages with most of the play taking place in the visitors’ half, although in truth there was lack of quality from both sides.
It took until the 19th minute for the first chance from either side and it fell to Blues. Jacques Maghoma whipped in a free-kick to the far post where it found Ryan Shotton. The Blues centre-half chipped it back into the danger zone where it was met by Clayton Donaldson. The striker’s header struck the underside of the bar and it looked as if it could have crossed the line before being scrambled away, but the officials weren’t convinced and waved play-on much to the dismay of the Blues players and crowd.
Villa immediately broke forward at the other end and Tomasz Kuszczak was forced to come racing out of his box as Albert Adomah fired wide of the target.
Blues went close again minutes later when Donaldson found space in behind the Villa back-line, but he curled his shot just over the bar.
But against the run of play it was Villa that drew first blood when they took the lead on the half-hour mark. Maikel Kieftendbeld was penalised for a challenge just inside his own half. And from the resultant free-kick Gary Gardner got on the end of it and planted a decent header into the top corner.
Going behind as they did certainly put a halt to Blues’ impetus and for the remainder of the half they struggled to regain their attacking threat
Half-time: Blues 0 Villa 1
Blues began the second-half much more positively and they fashioned their first opening on 49 minutes when Jonathan Spector fired over from the edge of the area, before Maghoma saw his low shot saved by Pierluigi Gollini in the Villa goal.
Kieftenbeld then fizzed a long-distance volley over the bar.
Blues had a golden opportunity to level things when Maghoma blocked a clearance and found himself through on goal, but with just the keeper to beat he struck it at Gollini and the ball was subsequently scrambled away from the danger zone.
These attempts certainly reignited the crowd and the atmosphere amongst the home faithful ramped right back up.
With just over an hour played Rowett made his first change of the afternoon when he sent on Lukas Jutkiewicz for Che Adams and then minutes later David Cotterill was sent into the action as a replacement for Kieftenbeld.
And his introduction paid immediate dividends as Blues scored a 71st minute equaliser. Cotterill’s cross from the right was cleared by Gollini but it only went as Davis on the edge of the box. Davis ran in with the ball before unleashing a powerful low shot into the bottom corner, which sent the crowd into raptures.
With 15 minutes of normal time remaining Blues came desperately close to scoring a second. Maghoma sent in a deep cross, where it was headed back by Jutkiewicz to Donaldson, but he was just off target with his volley and the ball flew a yard the wrong side of the post.
Blues continued to press on in search of a winner and were unlucky when Shotton was unable to control his close-range attempt and it ballooned over the bar.
With the game deep into stoppage time there was the desperately sad sight of seeing Wiggins carried off on a stretcher with an oxygen mask on after a collision with a Villa defender.